China vehicle registration plates

I get asked pretty often about the car vehicle license plates in China, so I figured I’ll write the information down in an article as a quick guide I can point people to.

First character

Municipality, province, or autonomous region.

The first character in the licence plate is the Chinese character abbreviation of the municipality, province or autonomous region where the vehicle is registered.

While some of the characters are direct abbreviations of the provincial names, others are characters that bear significance for the region they represent.

Municipalities

  • Beijing – 京
  • Chongqing – 渝
  • Shanghai – 沪
  • Tianjin – 津

Provinces

  • Anhui – 皖
  • Fujian – 闽
  • Gansu – 甘
  • Guangdong – 粤
  • Guizhou – 贵
  • Hainan – 琼
  • Hebei – 冀
  • Heilongjiang – 黑
  • Henan – 豫
  • Hubei – 鄂
  • Hunan – 湘
  • Jiangsu – 苏
  • Jiangxi – 赣
  • Jilin – 吉
  • Liaoning – 辽
  • Qinghai – 青
  • Shaanxi – 陕
  • Shandong – 鲁
  • Shanxi – 晋
  • Sichuan – 川
  • Yunnan – 云
  • Zhejiang – 浙

Autonomous regions

  • Guangxi – 桂
  • Inner Mongolia – 蒙
  • Ningxia – 宁
  • Xizang Tibetan Autonomous Region – 藏
  • Xinjiang – 新

Second character

District, county or city.

The second character in the licence plate is a Latin character that indicates the city of registration. For provinces and autonomous regions, The letter A is assigned to the capital.

For example, vehicle plates in Guangzhou start with 粤A while those in Shenzhen start with 粤B. Both Guangzhou and Shenzhen are in the Guangdong province, so they have 粤 as the first character. Guangzhou is the capital city of Guandong and is assigned the letter A, while Shenzhen is assigned the letter B.

See the full lists at the end of the article.

Vehicle plates

There are five characters after the city character. These were previously numbers only. However, as the number of cars grew beyond 99,999, it became necessary to add Latin characters to increase the number of possible combinations.

24 letters of the alphabet can be used. The letters “O” and “I” are omitted to avoid confusion with the numbers 0 and 1.

New Energy vehicles

New Energy vehicles licence plates were introduced on 21 November 2016 and were issued since 1 December 2016 in Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuxi, Jinan, and Shenzhen. These later became adopted country-wide in 2018. These registration plates are green, making them easy to spot.

Before the introduction of these licence plates, New Energy vehicles used the conventional registration plates. The New Energy vehicles licence plates were created to encourage the adoption of New Energy vehicles. The benefits of getting the New Energy vehicles licence plates are a shorter waiting list and no registration fees required. These are attractive perks in large cities like Shenzhen where motorist have to ballot for the registration plates and pay a hefty sum for the licence plates.

The New Energy vehicles licence plate added another character to the registration plate. A “D” indicates an electric vehicle, while an “F” indicates other types of New Energy vehicles. The position of this character depends on the size of the vehicle. For Small New Energy vehicles, it comes after the city character. For Large New Energy vehicles, it is the last character of the licence plate.

List of districts, counties and cities

Municipalities

Beijing

  • 京A (yellow plates) – Buses
  • 京C, 京E, 京F, 京H, 京J, 京K, 京L, 京M, 京P, 京Q – Urban area
  • 京B – Taxis
  • 京G – Suburbs
  • 京N, 京P, 京Y – Suburbs and urban area
  • 京A, 京LB, 京LC – Foreigner or foreign company-owned vehicle
  • 京O·A – Ministry of Public Security
  • 京V – Central Guard Bureau of Beijing Garrison Military License

Chongqing

District prefixes were abolished after 18 May 2017.

  • 渝A – Urban area
  • 渝B – Urban area
  • 渝C – Yongchuan District, Jiangjin, Hechuan, Tongnan County, Tongliang County, Bishan County, Dazu County, Qijiang County, Rongchang County
  • 渝D – Urban area
  • 渝F – Wanzhou District, Liangping County, Chengkou County, Wushan County, Wuxi County, Zhong County, Kaizhou District, Fengjie County, Yunyang County
  • 渝G – Fuling District, Nanchuan, Dianjiang County, Fengdu County, Wulong County
  • 渝H – Qianjiang District, Shizhu Tujia Autonomous County, Xiushan Tujia and Miao Autonomous County, Youyang Tujia and Miao Autonomous County, Pengshui Miao and Tujia Autonomous County

Shanghai

  • 沪A, 沪B, 沪D, 沪E, 沪F, 沪G, 沪H, 沪J, 沪K, 沪L, 沪M, 沪N – Urban area and suburbs.
  • 沪C – Suburbs, not allowed to enter the urban area (not allowed to travel within the Outer Ring).
  • 沪R – Chongming Island, Changxing Island, Hengsha Island, not allowed to leave the places above.

For the third character of the license plates (with 4 digits following):

  • Z – New energy vehicles (except licenses begin with 沪A and 沪C).
  • M, N, U to X – Taxis.
  • Y – Vehicles for rent, owned by car renting operators.

Tianjin

  • 津A, 津B, 津C, 津F, 津G, 津H, 津I, 津J, 津K, 津L, 津M, 津N, 津P, 津Q, 津R – General issues
  • 津E – Taxis

Provinces

Anhui

  • 皖A- Hefei
  • 皖B – Wuhu
  • 皖C – Bengbu
  • 皖D – Huainan
  • 皖E – Ma’anshan
  • 皖F – Huaibei
  • 皖G – Tongling
  • 皖H – Anqing
  • 皖J – Huangshan
  • 皖K – Fuyang
  • 皖L – Suzhou
  • 皖M – Chuzhou
  • 皖N – Lu’an
  • 皖P – Xuancheng
  • 皖Q – former Chaohu (prefecture-level)
  • 皖R – Chizhou
  • 皖S – Bozhou

Fujian

  • 闽A – Fuzhou
  • 闽B – Putian
  • 闽C – Quanzhou
  • 闽D – Xiamen
  • 闽E – Zhangzhou
  • 闽F – Longyan
  • 闽G – Sanming
  • 闽H – Nanping
  • 闽J – Ningde
  • 闽K – Provincial-level agencies, Pingtan Island
  • 闽O – Police vehicles

Gansu

  • 甘A – Lanzhou
  • 甘B – Jiayuguan
  • 甘C – Jinchang
  • 甘D – Baiyin
  • 甘E – Tianshui
  • 甘F – Jiuquan
  • 甘G – Zhangye
  • 甘H – Wuwei
  • 甘J – Dingxi
  • 甘K – Longnan
  • 甘L – Pingliang
  • 甘M – Qingyang
  • 甘N – Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture
  • 甘P – Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture

Guangdong

  • 粤A – Guangzhou (粤AQ – Panyu)
  • 粤B – Shenzhen
  • 粤C – Zhuhai
  • 粤D – Shantou
  • 粤E – Foshan (粤EV – Gaoming, 粤ET – Sanshui)
  • 粤F – Shaoguan
  • 粤G – Zhanjiang
  • 粤H – Zhaoqing (粤HL – Sihui)
  • 粤J – Jiangmen
  • 粤K – Maoming
  • 粤L – Huizhou
  • 粤M – Meizhou
  • 粤N – Shanwei
  • 粤O – Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department
  • 粤P – Heyuan
  • 粤Q – Yangjiang
  • 粤R – Qingyuan
  • 粤S – Dongguan
  • 粤T – Zhongshan
  • 粤U – Chaozhou
  • 粤V – Jieyang
  • 粤W – Yunfu
  • 粤X – Shunde (District of Foshan, discontinued issuing from February 2018)
  • 粤Y – Nanhai (District of Foshan, discontinued issuing from February 2018)
  • 粤Z – Hong Kong and Macau vehicles frequently travelling to the mainland. The registration number has 4 alphanumerics, suffixed with either 港 (for Hong Kong) or 澳 (for Macau).

Guizhou

  • 贵A – Guiyang
  • 贵B – Liupanshui
  • 贵C – Zunyi
  • 贵D – Tongren
  • 贵E – Qianxinan
  • 贵F – Bijie
  • 贵G – Anshun
  • 贵H – Qiandonnan
  • 贵J – Qiannan

Hainan

  • 琼A – Haikou
  • 琼B – Sanya
  • 琼C – Qionghai, Wenchang, Wanning, Ding’an, Tunchang, Chengmai,Lingao
  • 琼D – Wuzhishan, Dongfang, Baisha, Changjiang, Ledong, Lingshui, Baoting, Qiongzhong
  • 琼E – Yangpu Economic Development Zone
  • 琼F – Danzhou

Hebei

  • 冀A – Shijiazhuang
  • 冀AT – Shijiazhuang taxis
  • 冀B – Tangshan
  • 冀BT – Tangshan taxis
  • 冀C – Qinhuangdao
  • 冀D – Handan
  • 冀E – Xingtai
  • 冀F – Baoding
  • 冀G – Zhangjiakou
  • 冀H – Chengde
  • 冀J – Cangzhou
  • 冀R – Langfang
  • 冀T – Hengshui

Heilongjiang

  • 黑A – Harbin
  • 黑B – Qiqihar
  • 黑C – Mudanjiang
  • 黑D – Jiamusi
  • 黑E – Daqing
  • 黑F – Yichun
  • 黑G – Jixi
  • 黑H – Hegang
  • 黑J – Shuangyashan
  • 黑K – Qitaihe
  • 黑L – Area of the Sungari River (now considered part of Harbin)
  • 黑M – Suihua
  • 黑N – Heihe
  • 黑P – Daxing’anling Prefecture
  • 黑R – Farming system

Henan

  • 豫A – Zhengzhou
  • 豫B – Kaifeng
  • 豫C – Luoyang
  • 豫D – Pingdingshan
  • 豫E – Anyang
  • 豫F – Hebi
  • 豫G – Xinxiang
  • 豫H – Jiaozuo
  • 豫J – Puyang
  • 豫K – Xuchang
  • 豫L – Luohe
  • 豫M – Sanmenxia
  • 豫N – Shangqiu
  • 豫P – Zhoukou
  • 豫Q – Zhumadian
  • 豫R – Nanyang
  • 豫S – Xinyang
  • 豫U – Jiyuan

Hubei

  • 鄂A – Wuhan
  • 鄂B – Huangshi
  • 鄂C – Shiyan
  • 鄂D – Jingzhou
  • 鄂E – Yichang
  • 鄂F – Xiangyang
  • 鄂G – Ezhou
  • 鄂H – Jingmen
  • 鄂J – Huanggang
  • 鄂K – Xiaogan
  • 鄂L – Xianning
  • 鄂M – Xiantao
  • 鄂N – Qianjiang
  • 鄂P – Shennongjia
  • 鄂Q – Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture
  • 鄂R – Tianmen
  • 鄂S – Suizhou

Hunan

  • 湘A – Changsha
  • 湘B – Zhuzhou
  • 湘C – Xiangtan
  • 湘D – Hengyang
  • 湘E – Shaoyang
  • 湘F – Yueyang
  • 湘G – Zhangjiajie
  • 湘H – Yiyang
  • 湘J – Changde
  • 湘K – Loudi
  • 湘L – Chenzhou
  • 湘M – Yongzhou
  • 湘N – Huaihua
  • 湘U – Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture

Jiangsu

  • 苏A – Nanjing
  • 苏B – Wuxi
  • 苏C – Xuzhou
  • 苏D – Changzhou
  • 苏E – Suzhou
  • 苏F – Nantong
  • 苏G – Lianyungang
  • 苏H – Huai’an
  • 苏J – Yancheng
  • 苏K – Yangzhou
  • 苏L – Zhenjiang
  • 苏M – Taizhou
  • 苏N – Suqian
  • 苏U – Suzhou extra (approved in October 2018)

Jiangxi

  • 赣A – Nanchang
  • 赣B – Ganzhou
  • 赣C – Yichun
  • 赣D – Ji’an
  • 赣E – Shangrao
  • 赣F – Fuzhou
  • 赣G – Jiujiang
  • 赣H – Jingdezhen
  • 赣J – Pingxiang
  • 赣K – Xinyu
  • 赣L – Yingtan

Jilin

  • 吉A – Changchun
  • 吉B – Jilin City
  • 吉C – Siping
  • 吉D – Liaoyuan
  • 吉E – Tonghua
  • 吉F – Baishan
  • 吉G – Baicheng
  • 吉H – Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture
  • 吉J – Songyuan

Liaoning

  • 辽A – Shenyang
  • 辽B – Dalian
  • 辽C – Anshan
  • 辽D – Fushun
  • 辽E – Benxi
  • 辽F – Dandong
  • 辽G – Jinzhou
  • 辽H – Yingkou
  • 辽J – Fuxin
  • 辽K – Liaoyang
  • 辽L – Panjin
  • 辽M – Tieling
  • 辽N – Chaoyang
  • 辽O – Police Vehicles
  • 辽P – Huludao

Qinghai

  • 青A – Xining
  • 青B – Haidong
  • 青C – Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
  • 青D – Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
  • 青E – Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
  • 青F – Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
  • 青G – Gyêgu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
  • 青H – Haixi Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture

Shaanxi

  • 陕A – Xi’an
  • 陕AT – Taxis in Xi’an
  • 陕AU – Taxis in Xi’an
  • 陕AV – Provincial-level agencies
  • 陕B – Tongchuan
  • 陕C – Baoji
  • 陕D – Xianyang
  • 陕E – Weinan
  • 陕F – Hanzhong
  • 陕G – Ankang
  • 陕H – Shangluo
  • 陕J – Yan’an
  • 陕K – Yulin
  • 陕V – Yangling Gaoxin Agricultural Zone

Shandong

  • 鲁A – Jinan
  • 鲁B – Qingdao
  • 鲁C – Zibo
  • 鲁D – Zaozhuang
  • 鲁E – Dongying
  • 鲁F – Yantai
  • 鲁G – Weifang
  • 鲁H – Jining
  • 鲁J – Tai’an
  • 鲁K – Weihai
  • 鲁L – Rizhao
  • 鲁M – Binzhou
  • 鲁N – Dezhou
  • 鲁O – Police vehicles (phased out in 2019)
  • 鲁P – Liaocheng
  • 鲁Q – Linyi
  • 鲁R – Heze
  • 鲁S – Laiwu
  • 鲁U – Qingdao Extra (for taxis, tour buses, etc.)
  • 鲁V – Weifang Extra
  • 鲁W – Provincial-level agencies (phased out in 2019)
  • 鲁Y – Yantai Extra

Shanxi

  • 晋A – Taiyuan
  • 晋B – Datong
  • 晋C – Yangquan
  • 晋D – Changzhi
  • 晋E – Jincheng
  • 晋F – Shuozhou
  • 晋H – Xinzhou
  • 晋J – Lüliang
  • 晋K – Jinzhong
  • 晋L – Linfen
  • 晋M – Yuncheng

Sichuan

  • 川A – Chengdu
  • 川B – Mianyang (former Chongqing, sub-provincial city)
  • 川C – Zigong
  • 川D – Panzhihua
  • 川E – Luzhou
  • 川F – Deyang
  • 川G – Chengdu extra (former Mianyang)
  • 川H – Guangyuan
  • 川J – Suining
  • 川K – Neijiang
  • 川L – Leshan
  • 川M – Ziyang (former Wanxian, now merged into Chongqing)
  • 川N – former Fuling (now merged into Chongqing)
  • 川O – issued by Vehicle Management Office of Sichuan Provincial Public Security Department
  • 川P – former Qianjiang Prefecture (now merged into Chongqing)
  • 川Q – Yibin
  • 川R – Nanchong
  • 川S – Dazhou
  • 川T – Ya’an
  • 川U – Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture
  • 川V – Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
  • 川W – Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture
  • 川X – Guang’an
  • 川Y – Bazhong
  • 川Z – Meishan

Yunnan

  • 云A – Kunming
  • 云B – former Dongchuan (prefecture-level, now merged into Kunming)
  • 云C – Zhaotong
  • 云D – Qujing
  • 云E – Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture
  • 云F – Yuxi
    • A “T” is further appended to taxis, for example 云FT1234.
  • 云G – Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture
  • 云H – Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture
  • 云J – Pu’er
  • 云K – Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture
  • 云L – Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture
  • 云M – Baoshan
  • 云N – Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture
  • 云P – Lijiang
  • 云Q – Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture
  • 云R – Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
  • 云S – Lincang

Zhejiang

  • 浙A – Hangzhou
  • 浙B – Ningbo
  • 浙C – Wenzhou
  • 浙D – Shaoxing
  • 浙E – Huzhou
  • 浙F – Jiaxing
  • 浙G – Jinhua
  • 浙H – Quzhou
  • 浙J – Taizhou
  • 浙K – Lishui
  • 浙L – Zhoushan
  • 浙O – Black license plates belonging to cars registered to foreign enterprises

Autonomous regions

Guangxi

  • 桂A – Nanning
  • 桂B – Liuzhou
  • 桂C – Guilin
  • 桂D – Wuzhou
  • 桂E – Beihai
  • 桂F – Chongzuo
  • 桂G – Laibin
  • 桂H – Guilin
  • 桂J – Hezhou
  • 桂K – Yulin
  • 桂L – Baise
  • 桂M – Hechi
  • 桂N – Qinzhou
  • 桂P – Fangchenggang
  • 桂R – Guigang

Inner Mongolioa

  • 蒙A – Hohhot
  • 蒙B – Baotou
  • 蒙C – Wuhai
  • 蒙D – Chifeng
  • 蒙E – Hulunbuir
  • 蒙F – Hinggan League
  • 蒙G – Tongliao
  • 蒙H – Xilin Gol League
  • 蒙J – Ulaan Chab
  • 蒙K – Ordos
  • 蒙L – Bayan Nur
  • 蒙M – Alxa League

Ningxia

  • 宁A – Yinchuan
  • 宁B – Shizuishan
  • 宁C – Wuzhong
  • 宁D – Guyuan
  • 宁E – Zhongwei

Xizang

  • 藏A – Lhasa
  • 藏B – Qamdo
  • 藏C – Shannan
  • 藏D – Xigazê
  • 藏E – Naqu
  • 藏F – Ngari Prefecture
  • 藏G – Nyingchi

Xinjiang

  • 新A – Ürümqi
  • 新B – Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture
  • 新C – Shihezi
  • 新D – Kuitun
  • 新E – Börtala Mongol Autonomous Prefecture
  • 新F – Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture
  • 新G – Qoqek
  • 新H – Altay
  • 新J – Karamay
  • 新K – Turpan
  • 新L – Hami
  • 新M – Bayin’gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture
  • 新N – Aksu Prefecture
  • 新P – Kizilsu Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture
  • 新Q – Kashgar
  • 新R – Hotan
  • 新S – Kunyu